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Title: Ringing in the rents : policy drivers in Indian telecom
Author: Balasubrahmanyam, Sandhya
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 5103
Awarding Body: SOAS, University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2015
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The growth of mobile telephony in India from its inception in 1995 has been remarkable considering the inconsistent policy directions and the high levels of corruption inherent in the sector's development. Current analyses of the sector characterize the sector's growth as having taken place in spite of poor and inconsistent policy choices. As a result, policy prescriptions focus upon appropriate auction design, to ensure that the correct market value of spectrum can be discovered, or upon regulatory independence, to ensure that the extraction by the state is curtailed to within levels that do not adversely affect the sector. This thesis argues that viewing the income streams in the sector from the perspective of rents generated through the creation of property rights in spectrum and using the analytical lens of a political settlement to study the rent distribution and outcomes can better explain the choice of policy as well as its impact on the sectors growth. This analysis allows us to draw conclusions that explain the underlying structural dynamics of the industry, as well as the evolution of policy. First, it indicates that the primary source of rents in this industry, spectrum scarcity, is itself policy driven. Second, the persistent domination of the three big telecom providers is a consequence of their access to differential rents from early access to better quality administratively allocated spectrum. Third, the seemingly inconsistent policy and high levels of corruption are better explained as arising in the context of a particular political settlement and then reinforcing or modifying the political settlement as an outcome of the rent streams they generate. Further, the analysis helps identify potential future directions of development of the political settlement and the impact these may have on policy effectiveness in the sector.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral